Sermon Recording: Recognizing a Heart of War (James 3.13-18)

Sermon Series pursuing peace 1110 x 624

Sermon Series: Pursuing Peace
Message 2 of 4: Recognizing a Heart of War
Scripture: James 3:13-18
These are the notes from a message offered 9/23/18, at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida. I’ll be posting this series on Fridays in the coming weeks. I pray they empower and inspire you to be a peacemaker.

Psalm 34:14        Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.

Way of Being Diagram from The Anatomy of Peace

We can see behaviors- our words and actions. But these are the tip of the iceberg. Behaviors are born deep within us coming from a heart of peace or a heart of war.

As we read the scripture, look for the heart of peace and the heart of war.

James 3:13-18 The Voice
13 Who in your community is understanding and wise? Let his example, which is marked by wisdom and gentleness, blaze a trail for others. 14 If your heart is one that bleeds dark streams of jealousy and selfishness, do not be so proud that you ignore your depraved state. 15 The wisdom of this world should never be mistaken for heavenly wisdom; it originates below in the earthly realms, with the demons. 16 Any place where you find jealousy and selfish ambition, you will discover chaos and evil thriving under its rule. 17 Heavenly wisdom centers on purity, peace, gentleness, deference, mercy, and other good fruits untainted by hypocrisy. 18 The seed that flowers into righteousness will always be planted in peace by those who embrace peace.

Pastor Lisa picks up a hand mirror and tells the story of growing up watching a children’s program called Romper Room. The teacher often used a mirror to say goodbye to the children and to encourage them to be “do bee’s,” those who do good.

Every time you see your reflection remember you are made in the image of God.

  1. God’s intention for you is wholeness. Salvation means wholeness. Wholeness looks like
    • Vs 13. wisdom and gentleness
    • Vs 17. wisdom, purity, peace, gentleness, deference, mercy, good fruits
  1. God’s intention for you is clarity- for you to clearly see your talents, your beauty, your value, your purpose, how beloved you are to God

Max Lucado quote                                                                         
If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it. He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning… Face it, friend. He is crazy about you!

God came in Jesus to reveal all these things about you and to prove God’s love. Jesus lived, healed, taught, imprisoned, tortured, crucified, died rose again so we could know that we know that we know this. So we could become this. When we know this and live out of this we have a heart of peace.

But the mirror is broken. Shattered by sin- our own choices, choices of others, circumstances of life, the brokenness of our world.

All we have is a shard. It’s hard to see with just this little bit of mirror. We forget who we look like, that we look like God. This is why we need Jesus.

Forgetting colors how we see situations and how we see others. It’s like looking through at the world through tinted lenses, or with blinders on like a horse. Or like we have an eye disease- only seeing the periphery or only seeing the middle.

anatomy of peace boxesThis limited view boxes us into how we respond to situations and people.

  1. Better-than box
    • I see the world as competitive, troubled
    • I’m better than most folks because I know what’s right and I do what’s right. The world needs me to be the example and to fix it.
    • I get impatient with all these incompetent fools who screw everything up
  1. Worse-than box
    • I see the world as hard, against me, ignoring me
    • I’m not as good as others. I’m broken, helpless.
    • If I’m truthful, I’m jealous and bitter towards those people with all the advantages
  1. I Deserve box
    • I see the world as unfair, unjust. It owes me.
    • People constantly take advantage of me and don’t appreciate me
    • I resent those ungrateful people depriving me and mistreating me. I deserve better.
  1. Must be seen box
    • I see the world watching me, judging me. I always wonder what people are thinking.
    • I feel anxious, stressed because I need to get it right. I need to be well thought of.

Do you recognize yourself in any of these boxes? Does it color how you view situations and people?

My friend, there is no shame. You have just forgotten who you are. Instead of holding on to the truth of who you really are you’re holding on to the mirror shard. You’re holding on to the wounds and brokenness and separation and sin

What happens if you hold on to the shard. You continue to wound yourself. And you wound others.

You’re living out of a heart of war. Here’s the good news. You can change. You can live out of a heart of peace.

Luke 18:9-14 (NRSV). The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
9 Jesus also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Jesus tells this parable to people who have a heart of war so they can receive a heart of peace. The first step is honesty, transparency, confessing our need and desire for a heart of peace to replace our heart of war.

If you desire a heart of peace, please join in this prayer.

Jesus, you are the Prince of Peace. You can give us a heart of peace. Jesus, we bow in wonder at the expanse of your embrace, the breadth of your inclusion,     the surprise of your grace. You seek and seek and seek, including those we write off as beyond hope, including me.

Jesus, You are the Great Physician coming to those in need of healing. You are the Lamb of God taking away the sin of the world. You are the Prince of Peace granting me a heart of peace.

Forgive me, Jesus. Forgive me for forgetting who you are. For forgetting who I am in you.

Forgive and heal my wounds. Forgive and heal my brokenness, my sin.

Forgive me for judging. Forgive my hurtful words and actions. Forgive my self-righteousness.

Forgive me Jesus for limiting you. I am so desperately in need of you.

Create in me a clean heart and renew your Holy Spirit within me.

Create in me a heart of peace. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! The new is coming. The new has come. Amen.

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Mark and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9:00 am or 10:30 am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9:00 am Sundays or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Sermon Recording: Cultivating a Heart of Peace (Matthew 5.43-48)

Sermon Series pursuing peace 1110 x 624

Sermon Series: Pursuing Peace
Message 1 of 4: Cultivating a Heart of Peace
Scripture: Matthew 5:43-48
These are the notes from a message offered 9/16/18, at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida. I’ll be posting this series on Fridays in the coming weeks. I pray they empower and inspire you to be a peacemaker.

Read Matthew 5:43-48, from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. God desires to perfect us in love.

Video: Tiffany Jenkins, A lady got mad at me at the drive through, my response

What stands out to you in this video?

  • She’s honest about her feelings (punch her in the throat)
  • She broke the cycle of conflict with an act of generosity and kindness. She used made a choice about how to respond.
  • She looked below the surface to imagine what might really be going on empathy
    • “Those people who are hardest to love need love the most”
  • She saw the person as a person
  • She believes changing our words and actions can change the world

Tiffany Jenkins has a heart of peace.

Bishop Ken Carter Quote: A heart at peace is not about just being nice to another person. It is the refusal to exaggerate our differences, and the refusal to go to war with another person. A heart of peace seeks to break the cycle that escalates our conflicts through working at the relational level and sees the other as a person created in the image of God.

Way of Being Diagram from The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict

way of being diagram the anatomy of peace

What we see is the behavior. What a person is doing and saying. This is only the tip of the iceberg.

Below the surface is where that behavior is born- our thoughts, feelings, wounds, beliefs, and sin color how we see the situation and how we see others.

The angry woman in the drive-through had a heart of war. We see her behavior- the frustration, anger, impatience, overreacting. We don’t know why she has a heart of war- what’s going on below the surface, but we can see the result.

  • She didn’t see Tiffany or her child as people. They’ve become an obstacle to be overcome, a problem to be fixed.
  • The angry woman felt her needs mattered more than the needs of those around her, including Tiffany

A Heart of War can lead to all kinds of destruction and injustice. If you are no longer a human being to me, I can take advantage of you, hurt you, oppress you, enslave you.

There’s another option- a heart of peace. 

  • Seeing people as people, not as objects or obstacles or problem to be fixed
  • You are real to me, as real as I am to myself. I see you.
  • Your cares and concerns matter just as much as my own. I value you.

This idea, seeing and valuing people, is rooted in Genesis 1:26-27. 

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

You are made in the image of God. You and every person you meet. God’s intention for you is goodness and wholeness, freedom and blessing. God has the same intention for every person you meet.

Thank You for extending me your heart of peace, your generosity of spirit towards me and my family following the death of my grandmother. We were wrapped in a warm blanket of cards, prayers, words of consolation and help.

Ten family members gathered around the table following my grandmother’s graveside service. Yes, we remembered her, but there was also laughter and a spirit of hope, of looking to the future.

We hadn’t all been together for 7 years. I was hoping and praying for peace. It isn’t always that way when a family gets together, when we go to work, go to school, go to the condo board meeting, or even in a drive-through. Now the political season is in high gear with its ugliness and accusations.

Yet, as followers of Jesus Christ, we’re called to foster peace in the midst of evil, controversy, and conflict.

How do we do it? Psalm 34:14 says, “Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.”

  1. Pray for the power of the Holy Spirit. We can’t do it in our own strength. This is about hearts of stone becoming hearts of flesh and that is a work of God.
    • Ezekiel 36:26 A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you, and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
  2. Depart from evil. Ask God to reveal the ways you contribute to conflict and leave them behind.  Pray for healing, forgiveness, and strength to live a new life in Christ.
  3. Do good. Seek Peace. Pursue it. Intentionally learn new ways of being and behaving.

Cultivating Peace

  1. See people as people made in the image of God
  2. Look below the surface for what’s really going on
  3. Break the cycle of escalation. The war stops with me. Choose carefully how to respond.
  4. Help the situation, do good

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Mark and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9:00 am or 10:30 am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9:00 am Sundays or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Prayer for the 15th Anniversary of 9/11

9-11 altar table c

Worship display for 9-11 Remembrance by Kim Evans. Includes candles for various portions of the prayer, two larger candles for the twin towers, two smaller candles for the Pentegon and Pennsylvania, red flowers in memory of the blood that was shed, rocks representing the rubble left behind, and yellow ribbons of hope.

Prayer for the 15th Anniversary of 9/11
One (or several) lead the prayer while another person lights the candles.

ONE VOICE
We gather today with persons all over the world to remember and to pray. We light 15 candles, one for each year since our world changed. We gather together in faith, in hope, in God’s infinite love.

Heavenly Father, we commend to your mercy and grace all who died in the September eleventh attacks and all who have died in the past fifteen years while laboring to end terrorism.

Light candles 1-4 as each of the following is read
In New York City: 2,342 persons
In Arlington, Virginia: 184 persons
In Shanksville, Pennsylvania: 40 persons
411 New York City rescue workers

Light candles 5-10 candles as the following is read
Thousands of military personnel

Over 70 countries lost loved ones that day: family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, heroes. In the face of their loss we claim your goodness, your faithfulness, and your power to bring good out of evil.

ALL VOICES
Traditional Setting, all speaking: Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me
Contemporary Setting, all singing: We Will Run, chorus only

ONE VOICE
Compassionate One, it has been 15 years, yet the pain is fresh for so many. Comfort all who continue to mourn the loss of loved ones. Come with assurance and peace for all who remain fearful for the future. Bring wholeness and hope to every broken place-
To broken bodies, broken hearts, and broken spirits
To broken relationships, broken systems, and broken faith

Light candle 11

ALL VOICES
Traditional Setting, all speaking: Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me
Contemporary Setting, all singing: We Will Run, chorus only

ONE VOICE
Our world remains a dangerous place O God, but with you there is safety and shalom.

ALL VOICES
You are our Rock, our Shield, our Defender.

ONE VOICE
Light candle 12 as the following is read

Draw together leaders of every nation. Give them ears to hear your wisdom and the courage to respond. Inspire them to work together for peace, justice and freedom.

Light candle 13 as the following is read

Strengthen all who risk their lives to protect others. Guard and favor all who work to make your world a place of peace.

ALL VOICES
Traditional Setting, all speaking: Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me
Contemporary Setting, all singing: We Will Run, chorus only

ONE VOICE
We light the final two candles, one for our enemies and one for ourselves.

Light candles 14 and 15.

ALL VOICES
God of the Nations, it is so hard to love and pray for those who hate us. Help us to be faithful. Save us all from revenge, false teaching, and blind suspicion. Help us all recognize our contributions to conflict. Help us all understand the hurt that causes the hate. Change the hearts of all who seek their way by evil and violent means. Create in us clean hearts that beat with your unconditional compassion. Leave no one in the dark. Fill us all with your light. Make us all instruments of your peace. Amen.

ALL VOICES
Traditional Setting, all singing: Let There be Peace on Earth
(United Methodist Hymnal #431)

Contemporary Setting, all singing: We Will Run, chorus only

Conclude with passing the peace to one another

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© 2011 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia and Nicole Sallee
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Prayer for the Anniversary of 9/11

ONE VOICE
We gather today with persons all over the world to remember and to pray. We gather together in faith, in hope, in God’s infinite love.

Heavenly Father, we commend to your mercy and grace all who died in the September eleventh attacks and all who have died since while laboring to end terrorism.

Over 70 countries lost loved ones that day: family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, heroes. In the face of their loss, and all the losses since, we claim your goodness, your faithfulness, and your power to bring good out of evil.

ONE VOICE
Compassionate One, it has been years, yet the pain is fresh for so many. Comfort all who continue to mourn the loss of loved ones. Come with assurance and peace for all who remain fearful for the future. Bring wholeness and hope to every broken place-
To broken bodies, broken hearts, and broken spirits
To broken relationships, broken systems, and broken faith

ALL VOICES
Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me

ONE VOICE
Our world remains a dangerous place O God, but with you there is safety and shalom.

ALL VOICES
You are our Rock, our Shield, our Defender.

ONE VOICE
Draw together leaders of every nation. Give them ears to hear your wisdom and the courage to respond. Inspire them to work together for peace, justice and freedom.

ONE VOICE
Strengthen all who risk their lives to protect others. Guard and favor all who work to make your world a place of peace.

ALL VOICES
Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me

ONE VOICE
God of the Nations, we light this candle for our enemies and for ourselves. It is so hard to love and pray for those who hate us. Help us to be faithful. Save us all from revenge, false teaching, and blind suspicion. Help us all recognize our contributions to conflict. Help us all understand the hurt that causes the hate. Change the hearts of all who seek their way by evil and violent means.

ALL VOICES
Lord Jesus, create in us clean hearts that beat with your unconditional compassion. Leave no one in the dark. Fill us all with your light. Amen.

Conclude with passing the peace to one another

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© 2015 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia and Nicole Sallee
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

For more information on the art and the use of this prayer in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Prayer: End the Madness (Matthew 2:16-18)

man-crying-help-4x3_540x405_thumb32014 Bible Reading Plan for Christmas
Day 30 Reading: Matthew 2:16-18
Herod’s Genocide

He gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity
who were two years old and under
– Matthew 2:16

Prayer: End the Madness
Hear our cry!
Head our plea!
Death is at the door
Evil is taking the day

Fear makes us crazy
Relief supplies rotting on the docks
Vaccines waiting on shelves
Riots in the streets
Abortions of convenience
Human trafficking
Suicide bombers
Genocide
War

End our madness
Deliver us from bloodshed
Deliver us from us

Come quickly
Come in power
Your power, not ours
Rescue your beloved
Lord, where else can we go?

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This post is part of the 2014 Bible Reading Plan for Christmas. Click here for more information, including a list of all the readings.

Prayer: End the Madness © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

For more information on the art and the use of this post in other settings,
please refer to the copyright information page.

Prayer: The Appearance of Peace (Luke 2:1-7)

baby jesus asleep hay2014 Bible Reading Plan for Christmas
Day 13 and 14 are set aside for worship and rest.
Day 15 Reading: Luke 2:1-7
Jesus is Born

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus
– Luke 2:1

Prayer: The Appearance of Peace
Lord, have mercy
Our earthly emperors
Decree away
Centurions and subjugation
Invasion and imperialism
Conquest and control
Worldly weapons bringing
an appearance of peace
Pax Romana

In the midst of the occupation
The forcing
The taking
A cry pierces the darkness
Bloodshed
Bearing
Breathing
Vernix and vulnerability
Homelessness and hay
Swaddling and skin

The appearance of Peace
Pax Aeternam
Glory to God!

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This post is part of the 2014 Bible Reading Plan for Christmas. Click here for more information, including a list of all the readings.

Prayer: The Appearance of Peace © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

For more information on the art and the use of this post in other settings,
please refer to the copyright information page.

Quotes: Reconciliation and Peacemaking

One of the statues of the Reconciliation Triangle by Broadbent Studio. For more information, see the link below.

One of the statues of the Reconciliation Triangle by Broadbent Studio. For more information, see the link below.

2 Corinthians 5:17-19 (NRSV)
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.

Reconciliation is the physical demonstration that God is at work in the world. Any fool can put people at odds. Only God – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all – can bring those opposed to one another together as sisters and brother. When we lose reconciliation, we lose the purposes of Jesus.
– Sean Palmer, Missing the Point

Running throughout our sacred texts, traditions, and experience is the thread of God’s desire for union, inclusivity, non-violence, trust, patience, and healing.– Richard Rohr

Forgiving and being reconciled to our enemies or our loved ones are not about pretending that things are other than they are. It is not about patting one another on the back and turning a blind eye to the wrong. True reconciliation exposes the awfulness, the abuse, the hurt, the truth. It could even sometimes make things worse. It is a risky undertaking but in the end it is worthwhile, because in the end only an honest confrontation with reality can bring real healing. Superficial reconciliation can bring only superficial healing.
– Desmond Tutu

We have not come to compete with one another.
We have come to complete one another. – Bill McCartney

Extended quote from Compassion in Practice: The Way of Jesus by Frank Rogers Jr.
Radical compassion in the face of violence invites the offender into a right and appropriate relationship. Jesus yearns for reconciliation – the estranged will be reunited, enemies will heal their differences, and perpetrators of violence will be restored to the communities that they betrayed. Radical compassion hopes for such reconciliation, and invites it even with those who act egregiously.

Reconciliation, however, is neither naive nor cavalier. Reconciliation has conditions. It requires the following:

  • Repentance. The violent or abusive person repents and admits the wrong he or she committed.
  • Remorse. He or she shows remorse for the pain his or her actions caused.
  • Restitution. He or she makes restitution, if only symbolically, in an attempt to restore that which was lost.
  • Rehabilitation. He or she commits to take steps toward his or her recovery so that further violation no longer occurs.

The response to injustice is to share.
The response to despair is a limitless trust and hope.
The response to prejudice and hatred is forgiveness.
To work for community is to work for humanity.
– L’Arche Founder Jean Vanier, Community and Growth

Violence, no matter how dramatic, doesn’t change anything. The world is already full of it, and more of it is just more of it. What actually changes the world is when the violence stops. It’s when the wounds and fears that drive our violence are healed. It’s when people who are bitter or afraid are reconciled. It’s forgiveness, kindness and nonviolence. What changes the world is the slow, quiet, gradual work of mending the human soul.
Steve Garnaas Holmes, Conspiracy

The only Hebrew Scriptures that [Jesus] quotes are those that move toward mercy and justice and inclusivity. There are scriptures that present God as punitive, imperialistic, or exclusionary, but Jesus never quotes them in his teaching. In fact, he speaks against them…. Jesus was not changing the Father’s mind about us; he was changing our mind about God—and thus about one another. If God and Jesus are not hateful, violent, punitive, torturing, or vindictive, then our excuse for the same is forever taken away from us. – Richard Rohr, What Jesus Says about God

John 14:27 NRSV
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

Give me peace by Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Terrible things have happened.
God, grant me acceptance.

People have been hurtful.
Give me forgiveness.

I am not done being hurt by what has happened.
Help me let go.

I also have done terrible things.
Forgive me.

I am afraid of my own guilt.
Heal me of my shame.

I want so desperately to be “good” that I need others to be “bad.”
Release me from judging.

I am angry because I feel powerless.
Give me peace.

I am afraid of my vulnerability.
Give me peace.

I am addicted to my fear and anger.
Give me peace.

In fear, I desire more violence, that others bear my pain.
Give me peace.

My anxiety, like a gun, makes me feel safe and powerful.
Give me peace.

This world is in need of healing.
Give me your peace, that I may be healing,
for this alone is your desire.
Amen.

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The Reconciliation Triangle consists of three memorials in three different cities confessing their role in human trafficking, asking for forgiveness, and vowing to continue to work for justice in this matter. Click here for more details of this powerful project.

For more information on the art, scripture translation and the use of this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.